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    Loudoun could play role in DC’s Olympic bid

    Loudoun is being discussed as the host of three potential Olympic sports should Washington win its 2015 bid to become an Olympic site in 2024.
    The nonprofit organization Washington 2024 and a who’s who executive board of Washington businesspeople and sports owners on Sept. 4 announced their intention to bring the Olympics to the nation’s capital with the unveiling of the website

    In preliminary discussions Robert Sweeney, one of the heads of the project and the president of the Greater Washington Sports Alliance, connected with Loudoun officials about a few potential Loudoun venues like Morven Park and Beavercreek Dam Reservoir.

    Most of the focus on Loudoun’s venues has been on Morven Park, which recently broke ground on a new indoor and outdoor facility. Olympic equestrian events include level three day eventing, show jumping, dressage and if it were to be added, carriage driving.

    Sweeney also looked at Beavercreek Dam Reservoir as a potential site for rowing events. The reservoir is currently approved as an Olympic venue by USRowing, the nonprofit organization recognized by the USOC.

    A third potential venue that was named in the information item was an aquatic center near the forthcoming Metro center which would be a “legacy project” for the Olympic organizers.

    The decision will ultimately be made some time in the winter of 2015 by the United States Olympic Committee. The American representative would then have to wait until 2017 when the International Olympic Committee confirms its decision on which city will host the 2024 Olympic games.

    Should Washington D.C. be chosen as that representative, Loudoun would likely host a few events, but the big questions would come about economic impact and infrastructure. A strong security apparatus already is in place as well as sporting infrastructure and the city is a magnet for international travel.

    “We are going to have a bid organizer come to a board meeting, hopefully in the October,” said Supervisor Matt Letourneau (R-Dulles), the head of the county's Economic Development Committee and the president of the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments. “There almost certainly will be infrastructure changes to be made.”

    Largely the infrastructure, such as hotel rooms and sporting facilities, is already in place in Washington, but Letourneau believes that major projects could dovetail with the county's major needs.

    The 2012 Olympics were in London, one of the most congested cities in the world, and traffic is lighter in Loudoun during summer months.

    “Hosting the 2024 Olympics can both create jobs and provide a lasting legacy in sport, tourism and culture that will benefit our region in the long-term,” said Gov. Terry McAuliffe, who voiced his support for the capital region’s initiative earlier this year.

    Loudoun would have Dulles International Airport, one of two international airports for the event, nearly 6,000 hotel rooms, 619 food service and drinking establishments, more than 40 wineries and 10 craft breweries.

    Washington 2024 is led by Russ Ramsey, an entrepreneur, financier, businessman and philanthropist and Ted Leonsis, owner of the Washington Wizards, Mystics, Capitals and the downtown Washington Verizon Center.

    Sheila Johnson, the CEO of Salamander Resort in Middleburg is also on the executive board.

    Conspicuously absent from the executive board was Ashburn-based Washington Redskins owner Daniel Snyder, who also operates FedEx Field. FedEx Field could be a major part of any bid, even though there are reports that RFK Stadium could be demolished in favor of a newer stadium and Olympic Village.

    Washington is being considered as one of four potential United States locations. The three other locations are Los Angeles, Boston and San Francisco. The bidding process is relatively fast-moving for such an important decision. Beginning in 2015 the United States will decide to put up one candidate or zero, as they did last cycle, for voting in 2017.

    Los Angeles has twice hosted the Olympics. San Francisco could be a strong contender with Bay Area sports facilities and an influx of tech money. Boston is a sport and history obsessed town which could make sense as well.

    Much of the organization of the bid took place quietly until earlier this month, when Washington 2024 announced its bid via the unveiling of its website.

    “Longer term it’s a branding exercise. It’s a chance to showcase the region to the world,” Letourneau said.

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    Loudoun Business Journal - Summer 2014

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